I have lost a friend.

Unfortunately, it is not the first for me and it pains me to think that it will not be the last. If you keep up with my blog posts, you can tell that I take friendships seriously. (Friends…) In the mid 90’s I lost three wonderful and close friends to the complications from HIV. Two were lost to suicide from the depression and the isolation from their family and friends, once they​ were outed by the medical community. Deny Daniels was a delightful friend who even today I think of when I go to a drag shows. John Ice, a comedic friend who taught me how to poke fun at myself and to live life to its fullest. To some these are only names, but to me these are just two of the gender non-conforming people who have in some way changed my life for the better.

Even though I have had a major case of writer’s block for the past few months, my friends final choice has set me forth on a mission to express my feelings through my writing. My writing is my catharsis, my purging and purification. It helps me cope with many things that I cannot control around me. One thing is the loss of family and friends who I hold dear to my heart.

Eulogies are a genre of writing unto themselves. Any of us concerned about the lives of those who exist on the margins has written one, afraid the loss of life would go unreported and uncared for if left to the traditional media machines to give voice to those lost. And perhaps more importantly, we write them because we know if left up to those traditional media machines, the context in which those lives were lost — or, more likely, taken — will be ignored. The public will consume the details of the death but none of the meaning or the cause behind the action. We, the ones who would like to see an end to the depression, violence and death of transgender people, are charged with writing those legacies.

It is extremely exhausting.

Each one takes something out of the writer. Each new story of injustice, depression, suicide and death eats away at us. And then the pangs of guilt attack us, as we remember that we are still alive, in a position to do the writing, while others are dying. In those moments, we spend in front of a keyboard trying to find the right words, in the right order to project the feelings of intensity we have in our soul, the page lights up and the words start to spill out.

Samuel or “Sam” as he was known to me will be added to the list of names of the transgender community that fought gallantly to only be themselves, to live as their authentic selves. Anyone who comes after and who has never had the pleasure of meeting the inspirational person that he was, will only know the name and never the person. And so, we write the eulogies. We bemoan the lack of coverage from the media. We rail against the everyday threat of violence transgender men and women face. We pull out the statistics to back up our point. We fight to ensure they are not misgendered and respect is paid to their preferred pronouns. And we know we will have to do it all again when the next transgender dies due to depression, violence or suicide.

No one takes joy in having to write these eulogies. But they remain necessary in a world that has no respect for transgender and gender non-conforming people. We must keep writing them so long as transgender people are viewed by so many as a threat by virtue of being transgender. This is the reality transgender people are facing, and so far all we have to offer them are eulogies. They are not enough. They take people who used to be transgender and who wanted nothing more than to live as their authentic selves and turn them into names on an ever-growing list. Impotent though they are, our eulogies are one of the few weapons we must fight back.

It is exhausting, but guess what? We cannot stop writing them. We cannot allow a second back to be turned toward transgender people who fear for their lives. If it is ever going to get better, we must keep writing our eulogies, we must keep saying, “I will fight for you, with you and beside you.” For Sam, for John, and Deny, and all the other transgender men and women who have become names. They deserve a better world. Here is hoping that our eulogies can help create one.

Image by karatara on Pexels.


  1. With friends like you; Sam, John, and Deny will never be forgotten. Writing for someone you love is not always easy, but it is necessary. You’re a special-good friend. You’re a writer. The combination gives you that special ability to write a eulogy that gets to the heart of the loved one we have lost. It never gets easier. If only we could reach people before they feel that life is not worth living. I have friends who lost their teen to suicide because somebody broke up with them.
    When I hear of a teenager whose little girlfriend or boyfriend broke up with them, I try to reassure them that it is not the end of the world. No matter how much it hurts at the time, one day soon they will be filled with joy and a reason to live. JOY! My favorite word. Blessings to you, Lynn. Your friend, Jo


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